The Winter Ogre is Coming to Town!

The Winter Ogre's view upon picking the lock to our front door. The socks overlap a sandblasted picture that normally hangs in our entryway.

The Winter Ogre's view upon picking the lock to our front door. The socks overlap a sandblasted picture that normally hangs in our entryway.

I joked about it last year. This year I’m bringing the magic, joy and wonder of the Winter Ogre to life!

A few days after December 21, the first day of winter, the ogre giant comes down from the forested hills to stock up for winter. Under cover of darkness, he breaks into homes in our town and steals the provisions he needs. Ogres are simple and child-like in some ways, and so he grabs toys and other shiny and pretty objects he finds, in addition to practical things such as food, water and blankets. Ogres are largely scavengers, after all.

That is why each December we hang two giant ogre socks just inside our front door for the ogre to see as soon as he arrives. (It’s a little known fact that ogres always enter through the front door, being excellent lock pickers with little patience for climbing or knocking down fences.)

Upon seeing the specially designed ogre-size socks, his cold heart melts at the warmness of our gestureā€¦ for what could the small-foots who dwell here do with such large socks? They must surely be a gift to the ogre.

And so it is that the ogre returns the gesture. He takes the socks and leaves our home untouched but for the addition of toys and other goodies he collected from other homes that night.
(If some stuffed animals or annoying electronic toys that Mom and Dad hate should go missing, perhaps the Winter Ogre just couldn’t resist taking a few of our things.)

That’s the story I told my 6-year-old daughter. And no, I’m not traumatizing her. She accepted my tale as easily as she accepted Santa Claus. I’m actually a little disappointed that she’s not more of a skeptic.

Technically, the ogre might visit us anytime in December. Come Christmas morning, I will declare that we were blessed with another visit from the Winter Ogre and he passed us over, leaving only goodness in his wake. Rejoice!

I’m curious how she’ll jive this with her belief in Santa Claus.

Lest you think this weird, it’s no different than the time I made her believe in the Toilet Paper Fairy. I’ve invoked special interest fairies as explanations for a variety of unexplained situations we encounter in daily life as a way of prodding her to look for alternate explanations. She still clings to belief in the TP and tooth fairies and Santa, but I’ve challenged her a few times with the claim, “Some of the things you believe are real are actually pretend.” She just hasn’t decided yet which things Papa is lying to her about.

She never really believed my story about Underpants Gnomes when she was 5-years-old, although she did pretend to be such a gnome, stashing a cache of undergarments in her closet.

Incidentally, the way to score inexpensive ogre socks is to hit up a big thrift store as soon as it deploys its Christmas merchandise after Thanksgiving. $1 slightly used beats $17 new at a chain store, especially considering that I’m never going to fill the socks with anything.

I invite you to spread the story of the Winter Ogre, modifying his home appropriately (mountains, cave, subway, sewer system, etc.) and adjust the season if you’re in another hemisphere (the Summer Ogre enters you home to load up on ice cubes and lemonade or somesuch).

Yeah, yeah, I know. You’re about as likely to do that as you are to buy a pooping dog game. It’s your loss. Your kids are only young once. These are magic times.

A letter and a picture my daughter tucked into the ogre socks.

A letter and a picture my daughter tucked into the ogre socks.

My daughter wrote a letter and drew pictures for the Winter Gnome with paint pens. She doesn’t know what an ogre looks like; how could anyone when he lurks in the dark of night? So we debated and decided he’s probably green with sharp yellow teeth and purple horns.

Her letter reads:

Dear the December Ogre, have a good December, here is a winter warm sock! for you!! (smiley face picture) (two candy cane pictures) I would like to help you more with winter supplies. Love (her name). (Multiple heart pictures)

Yeah, she flubbed his name, but December Ogre is perhaps a universal name that better plays into the use of Christmas stockings in countries that don’t experience winter in December.


11 Responses to “The Winter Ogre is Coming to Town!”

  1. Jeremy says:

    Awesome. Interesting idea, but is it worth creating another sham for the kids?

    You tried underpants gnomes? lolol

    Step 1: Gather underpants
    Step 2: ……
    Step 3: Profit

    Love it!

    December 14th, 2010 at 2:02 pm

  2. AJ says:

    Well, I mean, once you decide to lie to your kids, where should it stop?

    1. Santa Claus
    2. Easter Bunny
    3. Tooth Fairy
    4. Winter Ogre

    Most parents agree with me. I just take it one lie further. Okay, maybe a few more lies further.

    I am actually looking forward to my daughter discarding Santa (that’s a book review for another day, though).

    December 14th, 2010 at 2:13 pm

  3. kelly says:

    Actually it makes sense that the December Ogre would be coming around the Solstice, while he has the most darkness. Which is why he doesn’t come down in the summer as night is too short. And his eyes might glow green a little like night vision goggles……yeah, I am really going to get into this one.

    December 14th, 2010 at 3:32 pm

  4. observer says:

    this would be a good way to give away things to a food pantery or homeless shelter. i will have to keep this idea tucked away

    December 14th, 2010 at 4:35 pm

  5. Kendra aka The Meanest Momma says:

    So I’m wondering… does the Ogre take the socks?

    This seems like a good way to clear out old toys before the new ones arrive.

    December 14th, 2010 at 5:44 pm

  6. AJ says:

    Yes, the Ogre takes the socks to wear during the winter. Now that you mention it, yes, he could be further appeased by filling the socks with your unwanted toys.

    December 14th, 2010 at 5:50 pm

  7. LonghornBlonde says:

    When my kid brother M. was about 5 we were visiting my grandparents and a lot of extended family was there. One of my dad’s cousins found a dime and handed it to my brother with an off-hand comment that the Dime Fairy must have left it for him. You’d be surprised at how many dimes you find when you start looking! We all turned over our “found dimes” to M. for the next several years, until the Dime Fairy faded away. He kept them in a little box, and would count them and make stacks, etc. At one point I remember him counting well in to the 70s as he played with his Dime Fairy leavings. The adults/big sisters in M’s life all had fun helping to perpetuate his singular belief in the Dime Fairy!

    December 15th, 2010 at 4:35 am

  8. jen says:

    My husband used to try to convince our young nephews that he was only allowed to marry me once he won a knife fight with my father who happened to be a karate expert like Bruce Lee. I don’t think they believe anything he says anymore.

    December 15th, 2010 at 8:34 am

  9. Aileen says:

    We used to have a sock and underwear gnome…. her name was Dancer and she would steal socks and undies and bury them in the backyard. She’s been gone a few years now, but we still find remnants of elastic in the back yard.

    December 15th, 2010 at 9:08 am

  10. Penguinmommy says:

    Total WIN! I was already looking for Festivus traditions for our now 10 month old son, I’ll have to add this to the holiday mix!

    December 15th, 2010 at 11:10 am

  11. Hope says:

    Hi AJ!
    I love the idea of a winter ogre. My husband and I have a little bit of difficulty blending both of our traditions during the winter, he was raised muslim and I was raised christian. I never thought of making our own new traditions! Yay!

    On a side note… I’ve been reading your blog actually forever, and I wonder why you have always kept your daughters name private, but have published your sons name?
    That being said, I know what it is! (Does that make me a stalker? But I live in Canada so I think you are safe.)

    December 21st, 2010 at 8:23 am